The Edmonton Oilers return to the ice at Rogers Place tonight to battle the Los Angeles Kings. It’ll be Edmonton’s second game of the year, while the Kings are just opening their 2019-20 season. This is a vastly different LA squad, with a number of young players on the roster and an old friend behind the bench.
This is the first of four meetings between the sides this season, and the first of two at Rogers Place. It’s also the first time the Edmonton Oilers will face former coach Todd McLellan, who is making his Kings debut.
After a stellar debut on Wednesday, Mike Smith gets the nod for Edmonton. Jonathan Quick will take opening day for the Kings.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: A quick transition game is very important for the Oilers tonight. Quick struggled last season and the LA defense simply is not what it used to be. With Adam Larsson out of the lineup, the Oil can’t afford to be hemmed in their own zone. Getting the puck up the ice as quickly as possible will be very important in this contest.
Los Angeles: A hard forecheck might be the most important thing for LA tonight. Outside of Darnell Nurse and Kris Russell, the Oilers don’t really have a physical element to their back-end. If the Kings can make the young puck movers uncomfortable, they should force turnovers and create offensive chances.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Ethan Bear really impressed on Wednesday night. He looked confident, made quicker decisions with the puck and was comfortable when paired with Oscar Klefbom. The year in Bakersfield appears to have done wonders for Bear. Can he keep it up? The Oilers will need him now that Larsson is out. I’ll be watching him closely tonight.
Los Angeles: Ben Hutton is a good defenseman that had a bad 2018-19. He struggled with the Canucks and, as a result, didn’t receive an offer this summer. He signed right before camp with the Kings and is looking to resurrect his career under Todd McLellan. This could be a terrific signing for the Kings if Hutton can rebound.
Adam Larsson is done for at least six weeks, with eight weeks being the more likely return date. That creates a big hole for the Oilers. The club returned Evan Bouchard to AHL Bakersfield on Friday and recalled Bear and William Lagesson. With Joel Persson activated from IR, Lagesson was shuttled back to the AHL earlier Saturday.
Alex Chiasson and Josh Archibald will sit up front. Both are battling the flu. Tomas Jurco makes his Oilers debut, while Patrick Russell checks in.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Joakim Nygard – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – James Neal
Jujhar Khaira- Colby Cave – Patrick Russell
Markus Granlund – Gaetan Haas – Tomas Jurco
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Oscar Klefbom – Joel Persson
Kris Russell – Matt Benning
Tobias Bjornfot will make his NHL debut tonight on the LA blueline. Drafted in the first round on June’s Entry Draft, Bjornfot is one of many young players ready to rebuild this Kings organization. Matt Roy will play just his 26th NHL game, while Adrian Kempe makes the jump to LA’s top six.
Los Angeles Kings Lines:
Alex Iafallo – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Ilya Kovalchuk – Adrian Kempe – Jeff Carter
Austin Wagner – Blake Lizotte – Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford – Mike Amadio – Trevor Lewis
Tobias Bjornfot – Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Matt Roy
Ben Hutton – Sean Walker
The sides split their four meetings a season ago, with the home team winning each contest. The Oilers scored 3-2 and 8-4 victories at Rogers Place in the series in 2018-19. Overall, Edmonton has won four of the last six meetings between these two teams, including the last three at Rogers Place.
Todd McLellan not only makes his Kings coaching debut tonight, but will also be facing the Oilers for the first time since being fired last November. This is a rare occurrence in Oiler history. The Oilers will face a former head coach for the first time since November 7th, 2000. That’s when the Oilers faced the Ron Low led New York Rangers.
The last time the Oilers started a season 2-0-0? 2016-17, when they swept a home-and-home with the Calgary Flames to kick off the season. They started 1-1-0 in 2017-18 and were 0-2-0 through a pair last season.